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Undecideds outpacing candidates as Massachusetts primaries close in



By Colin A. Young

With less than two weeks until the state’s primary elections, “undecided” is leading the pack in nearly every race on both the Democratic and Republican sides, a new poll released Thursday by the Fiscal Alliance Foundation found.

The results seem to indicate that statewide candidates have so far failed to make a big impression on voters, and there are opportunities for many of those in the running to break through with the electorate in the final days of campaigning.

But the poll results could also indicate how some people have already voted since many mail-in ballots have already been marked. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, 652,471 voters had requested mail-in ballots, 636,867 of those ballots had been mailed out to voters, and 207,586 voters had returned their ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office.

On the Democratic side, Kim Driscoll was leading the lieutenant governor’s race with 13 percent support (Eric Lesser with 9 percent and Tami Gouveia with 6 percent), but 72 percent of primary voters said they have not yet made up their minds.

Andrea Campbell led the attorney general primary (25 percent) followed by Shannon Liss-Riordan (20 percent) and Quentin Palfrey (5 percent). Forty-nine percent said they were undecided about their choice for AG. Neither candidate for auditor registered much support (Chris Dempsey at 15 percent and Diana DiZoglio at 10 percent) and 75 percent said they were undecided.

Secretary of State William Galvin was the only candidate of either party to register at least 50 percent support. The poll found Galvin to have 55 percent support among Democratic primary voters to challenger Tanisha Sullivan’s 14 percent. Thirty-one percent were undecided in that race.

Among Republican primary voters polled, Geoff Diehl led the gubernatorial contest with 42 percent support to Chris Doughty’s 27 percent, but about one-third of voters said they are still undecided in the contest for governor. The poll was sponsored by the Fiscal Alliance Foundation, which overlaps significantly with an organization founded by Diehl’s employer Rick Green, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “File this poll under unethical,” Doughty tweeted Thursday afternoon.

When it came to the lieutenant governor’s race, 68 percent of GOP primary voters said they were still undecided. But Kate Campanale, who is aligned with Doughty’s campaign, was running a bit ahead of Diehl’s preferred running mate Leah Allen. Nineteen percent of respondents said they support Campanale to the 13 percent who support Allen.

Paul Craney, a spokesman for the foundation and Mass. Fiscal, noted that the difference between Campanale and Allen was within the poll’s margin of error (+/- 7.2 points for Republican primary contests) but said now is the time for gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle to make sure their voters know who they want to have working with them as lieutenant governor.

“If I was Geoff and Leah right now, I’d be really kind of focusing on making sure that connection is very clear leading into the next few days and then through early voting and on primary day,” he said. “And then maybe if you’re Maura Healey and you do have a preference, making that preference kind of known directly or indirectly the next few days is probably what their campaign is thinking for the LG race. Because again, that one seems to be pretty wide open.”

The high percentage of likely primary voters from both parties who are still undecided about the lieutenant governor primaries signaled to Craney that the race for that job is “an afterthought right now.”

The poll surveyed 750 primary voters with a history of voting in primary elections on Aug. 22 and 23, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 points for the Democratic primary and a margin of error of +/- 7.2 points for the Republican primary. The poll was conducted by Jim Eltringham of D.C.-area polling company Advantage Inc.

The most important issue that primary voters said they have in mind when considering how to vote was climate change (25 percent), followed by health care (20 percent) and then inflation (16 percent), the poll found.

Voters were fairly evenly divided on a question that appears poised to be on the November ballot, whether Massachusetts should make driver’s licenses available to immigrants who do not have legal status in this country. Forty-seven percent of people polled said they support the new law while 42 percent said they do not. A repeal effort is on track to be approved for the ballot, supporters said this week.

Forty-six percent of people polled said that they either somewhat or strongly disapprove of the proposed 4 percent surtax on household income above $1 million that will be on the November ballot, compared to 35 percent who said they either somewhat or strongly support it. However, the question put to poll respondents asked about a plan to “raise the income tax from 5 to 9 percent, which represents an 80 percent increase, on some earnings from high-income earners and middle-class small businesses” without providing greater detail about the question.

Voters were split when asked whether the Legislature should find a way to pass its agreed-to but stalled tax relief plan — which would provide $250 checks to taxpayers who earned at least $38,000 last year (or $500 for couples) — by the end of the year. Fifty-one percent said lawmakers should get that done, but 34 percent said no and 15 percent were not sure.

While 65 percent of all respondents said they think Massachusetts is on the right track (25 percent said on the wrong track), Democrats and Republicans were dramatically split on the question. Among the 187 likely Republican primary voters surveyed, 67 percent said that the Bay State is on the wrong track and 22 percent said the state that’s been run by a Republican governor for the last eight years is on the right track. Among the 563 likely Democratic primary voters polled, 79 percent said the state is on the right track.

One thing that Democratic and Republican primary voters agree on is that the 1986 voter law establishing a cap on state tax revenues and requiring excess collections to be returned to taxpayers should remain in place. Sixty-five percent of people polled said they support keeping Chapter 62F, 15 percent said they do not support it and 20 percent said they were not sure.

“It’s not very often that any one policy can unite Republican and Democratic primary voters, but support for the 1986 voter approved tax rebate law seems to bring them together,” Craney said.

Early in-person voting for the primaries started Saturday, Aug. 27 and ends Sept. 2. Aug. 27 was also the last day to register to vote or to update party affiliation for the Sept. 6 state primaries. The deadline for voters to request a mail-in ballot is Aug. 29 and polls will be open for in-person voting from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day — Tuesday, Sept. 6.



  1. Rick

    August 29, 2022 at 8:44 am

    More people are worried about global warming than inflation? Are you insane? Either this polling was conducted in Harvard Square or somebody has an agenda.

    • Antifa

      August 29, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      I guess you don’t have kids and don’t care about this planet’s future that’s speeding to catastrophe. So when we’ve had disruptions from covid that’s affected the whole world causing inflation worldwide what do you expect the government to do to fix it?

      • MortisMaximus

        August 29, 2022 at 9:17 pm

        Lies, Lies and more Lies from the Liar!

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